Online video streaming OTT (over the top) platforms — Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc — are not required to obtain licences from the government to run their programmes, the Central government today (February 8) told the Delhi High Court.
The court was hearing on the plea filed by the not-for-profit organisation, Justice for Rights Foundation, who had sought laws or guidelines for regulating OTT content streaming on these platforms.
During the last hearing on the matter, the Delhi High Court had asked the respondent, the Union of India, to seek instruction from the ministry that whether the broadcast of Amazon or Netflix is based on any license, regulation or not.
“The online platforms are not required to obtain any license from this ministry and the content on the online platform is not being regulated by this Ministry,” the Centre told a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao.
Advocate Harpreet Hora, representing the NGO, told Inc42 that ‘content’ is one of the four aspects of its petition. Other three more aspects include ‘licensing’, ‘regulation’ and ‘certification’ of OTT platforms.”
“Today, the argument had turned towards the licensing part, which the court wasn’t convinced about. Our basic contention is that if somebody is doing business in my country, they should be licensed or regulated,” the advocate said.
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He added that the court was not convinced with their argument regarding the OTT content.
“We informed the court that we have already filed a police complaint. Then the court said that you can seek the implementation of the police complaint but at this state, we cannot direct them to seek a license,” the advocate said.
The NGO here added that they will sit and chalk-out further alternatives and remedies it can seek in this matter.
The court also dismissed the plea which has sought removal of vulgar and sexually explicit content from online platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others.
It is learnt that the Ministry of Law and Justice had earlier stated that they are not concerned with the matter, while MeitY has stated that it does not monitor or regulate the content on internet except for limited functions under section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000 and this case do not pertain to Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
In January, last year, nine OTT platforms — Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio, Voot, ALTBalaji, Zee5, Eros Now and SonyLIV — signed a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of IAMAI that prohibit these video platforms from showing a certain type of content
IAMA had then said that this code has been in play for over a year and establishes guidelines for online curated content (OCC) providers and prohibits from showing content that’s banned by Indian courts, disrespect the national emblem and flag, outrages religious sentiments, promotes terrorism or violence against the state and shows children in sexual acts.
IAMA today refused to comment on the recent direction by the Delhi High Court maintaining that they have not yet gone through the judgement, at the time of publishing this report.